West Side Transportation Cornucopia, part viii – Albert-Slater alert

The City is hosting an “open house” on Tuesday (Nov 28, 5.30pm  onwards  ) to show their plans for the future Albert and Slater Streets between Empress (the Good Companions) and Waller (Rideau Centre, UOttawa U). Here are some things … Continue reading West Side Transportation Cornucopia, part viii – Albert-Slater alert

Westward Ho ! (part iv) in which Fantasies come to the fore …

  In the previous three stories I’ve tried to review what is planned, what some of the tradeoffs were, what the consequences area, and slip in just a teensey tiny wee bit of my opinion. So what would Eric do if faced with the same starting situation,  of the City insisting its Western LRT had to go down the parkway space; and the NCC insisting that people using transit is incompatible with their revised greenspace plan? (note I am not considering other completely different route options). The physical plan My goal going into the conflict would be to keep rail on … Continue reading Westward Ho ! (part iv) in which Fantasies come to the fore …

The case of the missing bike posts

  When Preston Street was rebuilt just a few short years ago, there were two bike posts installed on the brick pavers shown above. They were installed at the expense of the Preston BIA, since this predates the city program of installing parking-meter-post-conversions. One disappeared, then the other. I have brought this to the attention of our cycling advocates at city hall, suggesting the sturdier ring posts the city now uses would be very appropriate here. No dice. And I know others have made the same suggestion too, including Councillor’s staff and the (now defunct) RCAC. But those bike posts … Continue reading The case of the missing bike posts

How shoppers get to Preston Street

A few days ago, I posted some info from the Wellington West BIA about how people get to their shops. The results were interesting to readers, including some city planners who contacted me on how to get the source info. A reader sends me this quote: [and note that at this point the street had undergone but not totally finished three years of muck and mud and noise of reconstruction, including reconstructing the sidewalks][and note also that this is a survey of local area residents, not of all the people found on the street, as was the WWBIA survey, which will account … Continue reading How shoppers get to Preston Street

A new-look turfstone

Back in the 80’s a hot landscaping approach was turfstone. Originated in Germany, it used perforated concrete paver blocks, rather like egg cartons, to provide both a driveable surface and one that would be green with grass growing up through it. The experiment had mixed results. The City insisted that since these were drivable surfaces, they had to go on gravel road bed and the spaces in the grid filled with gravel. Grass was then supposed to grow on this road base. The concrete pavers exposed a lot of top surface to the sun and air, which wicked the moisture … Continue reading A new-look turfstone

Major changes coming to downtown streets

The current downtown Ottawa is rather blah. Some might even call it bleh. Over the decades, it has become a motor-vehicle-oriented environment, with the fast movement of vehicles the main only priority. We all know about the walls of buses. And the priority given to automobile commuters over pedestrians. Trees: rare as hen’s teeth. It has become a downtown one goes to because you have to. It is not a shopping, or even much of a recreation destination. All rather sad. When the LRT is opened, there will be major changes. Most OC Transpo buses will be off the Albert … Continue reading Major changes coming to downtown streets

Museum of Strife

The (Federal government’s) Museum of Nature is embroiled in a dispute with some locals on the value and location of its parking lot. The nub of the problem is the Museum wishes to convert some of its parkland on its west side into a surface parking lot. The west side lawn had been converted to a “temporary” construction staging site during lengthy Museum renovations. Alas, in Ottawa “temporary” is usually a euphemism for never-ending. The thin end of the wedge to sneak in unpleasant changes under the guise of reasonably-sounding “it’s only for a while” arguments. The problem with these “temporary” agreements is … Continue reading Museum of Strife

Downtown Moves

The folks running the Downtown Moves study had an open house last evening. I was very pleased and surprised at the large turnout  around 6pm. Some attendees were the usual suspects we find at these events, ie the city builder activists and those promoting their favourite causes. There were a l0t of “new” faces as well. All good. One of the display boards offered attendees the opportunity to put a dot on the main cycling and pedestrian problems in the core. Jumping right out at any viewer was the cluster of both ped and cyclist dots at the Albert-Bronson intersection, especially … Continue reading Downtown Moves

Proposed condo, 175 Richmond Road

Claridge is proposing a six and nine story condo buildings at the corner of Richmond and Kirkwood, opposite the Real Canadian Superstore: The lot is currently occupied by a three storey industrial building, with strip-mall type retail on the Richmond side; with undefined street/parking lot on the east side where Kirkwood sort-of runs northwards from Richmond; and with loading docks and a very industrial frontage on the north side, Wilbur Street.  The current industrial building is zero lot line on the west, where it abuts the rear lot lines of homes. This is quite similar to my own home, and I greatly … Continue reading Proposed condo, 175 Richmond Road

You can improve what you measure; and we aren’t

This is the next in a series of posts building on the Downtown Moves articles I did in late December at the www.SpacingOttawa.ca site. The Downtown Moves team did a sort of crowd sourcing exercise to identify the problems and some solutions for the downtown enviornment. City staff, consultants, and amateur planners/keeners like myself heard three prominent speakers on urban issues, then sitting around tables of six to ten people cranked out solutions to perceived problems. The consultants then sorted these ideas into major clusters. This is a perfectly legitimate method of finding a bunch of things to do, quickly. I … Continue reading You can improve what you measure; and we aren’t

Parks Planning (ii)

Chaudiere Park is a well-used large-ish pocket park on Elm Street, between Rochester and Preston. It’s about 140′ along the street, and about 100′ deep. The park is dominated by a very large, very deep wading pool that delivers a freeze-your-bones-it’s-so-cold experience to kiddies for six weeks every summer. There is a large sandbox on the east; a basketball court on the west. The general impression is a sea of pavement. and Chaudiere Park on Elm is a newish location for the former Chaudiere Park on LeBreton Flats, which was relocated to Elm after the “slum clearance” expropriation in the 1960’s. As such, it deserves a proper park … Continue reading Parks Planning (ii)

Sidewalk parkers move on!

A reader responded to a previous gripe here about motorists that park on sidewalks. He suggested I conspicuously take a picture of the scofflaw. So when I came across this car on Preston Street, I first noticed that there were abundant on street parking spaces, and off street ones too in the Preston Hardware lot across the road. I stopped in front of Mr Motorist and spent a little bit of time setting up the picture. With a little squeak of the tires (sort of an attempted squeal, but he wasn’t going fast enough) he pulled out and parked legally in space fifty … Continue reading Sidewalk parkers move on!

OC Transpo provides better bike parking

Users of the main transitway stations will have noticed that some bike parking racks have been shoved aside from their usual locations. Then concrete pads have been poured. Only at Baseline Station did I notice a sign identifying what is going on: new bike racks. Kudos to OC for providing better bike parking. In the pic below notice the new shelter, the moderately strong bike racks, and in the distance, the numerous bikes attached to the shoved-aside racks that are no longer bolted to the ground (and the background, the free employee parking lot attached our municipal office building). And here is a … Continue reading OC Transpo provides better bike parking

Park and Ride, here and there

There have been several stories in the media lately about park and ride lots here in Ottawa. The lots seem popular, and mostly over-used with late arrivals not being able to find a parking space. The first-come policy favours regular early morning commuters. The Ottawa lots are free. Well, not exactly free. They cost a lot of money to build, maintain, and patrol. But our municipal government doesn’t charge the users anything. It is therefore not surprising that they are full, as they are being sold (given away) wa-a-a-y below cost and wa-a-a-a-y below value. Things that are free are of course … Continue reading Park and Ride, here and there

Making a pigskin purse from a sow’s ear

The Skyline  Crown Plaza  Delta Ottawa Centre hotel is finally correcting that awful Campeau-induced blight on the downtown. The Place de Ville complex is fully a product of 60’s thinking: big buildings, on barren plazas, with few or no windows on the ground floors, and utter domination of the streetscape for automobiles. Now maybe Robert Campeau rode up to his buildings in limo, sailing majestically on those ramps leading to hidden-from-the-street front doors. But for the rest of us, those buildings denied the public street and tried to suck pedestrians down into an underground shopping mall. For the last forty years, there have … Continue reading Making a pigskin purse from a sow’s ear

Parks and Parking, very different words

I recently took the city course on Parks Planning, part of a series of planning courses they offer to educate the great unwashed. I will offer some more comments on the course should I ever find my notes. But the most significant impression I took away related to parks and parking. Now I went into the battle  course with loins girded to ask some tough questions. Like, why is so much of our precious scarce parkland occupied by parking lots? Is this really the highest and best use of parkland? I was all prepared to offer up the example of the … Continue reading Parks and Parking, very different words


Some days on the west side of town are just peachy. Other days are a tad … dull. Depressing, even. Someone had enough time and energy to attack this Ginkgo tree in Plouffe Park: Meanwhile, over on Albert Street, where a half-assed multi-user path runs along the north side of the road, these have appeared scattered all along the path: Some of the posts are steel, like the one shown. Others are chunky 4×4 posts, all about 10′ high. I think the city buys one size of post, digs any depth hole, plants said post, then cuts it off at … Continue reading Dullsville

YES ! to municipal bike tax

So a City Councillor has suggested we tax bicycles, perhaps by levying a license fee. I suspect he pictures in his mind a miniature license plate, similar to the full size plates that a car has, or what bicycles in the 1950’s used to have. Some places use stickers instead of metal plates, but these are hard to read, and certainly cannot be read while an offending cyclist speeds off into the sunset after his or her dasterly deed. I agree with Councillor Monette. The municipality should license bicycles and indeed all vehicles driving in the City. Right now, the City … Continue reading YES ! to municipal bike tax

Unintended benefits of Laurier SBL

The Laurier Separated Bike Lane — SBL — opens July 10th. Considerable criticism has been levelled that it goes nowhere from nowhere to nowhere. I guess these critics want a SBL that never starts nor stops…  they just don’t want it at all. At the western end of Laurier, the bike lane stops at Bronson. Considerable volumes of bike traffic will have moved off the route to go north and west or south by time the lane reaches Bronson. But for traffic continuing into Dalhousie, Chinatown, or desiring to go south parallel to Bronson, some new measures have been put into place … Continue reading Unintended benefits of Laurier SBL